Web in Travel: Priceline sets out ‘disciplined’ growth aim

Web in Travel: Priceline sets out ‘disciplined’ growth aim

Priceline Group will continue to grow in a “disciplined” way, according to a senior figure in the business.

At Web in Travel’s (WIT) first European conference in London on Thursday, a panel was asked founder and managing director WIT, Yeoh Siew Hoon, what the ‘right way to grow in Asia’ is.

Priceline Gorup’s senior vice president, corporate development, Adrian Currie, said: “I think it’s up to each business to decide what the right model is.

“We are pretty clear that we run our business at profit to get sustainable growth.

“We obviously try and maximise the growth if we can but we want a positive ROI in all our businesses. All our businesses are profitable in APAC as well.

“We will run our businesses in a disciplined way because ultimately you can’t carry on spending money forever.

“If you take the you take the war that’s going on between Uber and Didi, which is the Chinese car company, they’re raising billions of dollars just to subsidise drivers and customer affairs.

“I personally find this astounding. At some point those businesses have to make money. Who’s right or wrong? Only time will tell.” Louise Daley, executive vice president and chief financial officer, AccorHotels Asia Pacific, said there is no one-size-fits-all approach to tapping into the Asia growth.

“There is not a particular business model across Asia. Each market is going to be different.

“We’re onto our third partner in India. It’s a very tricky market and there’s no win win.”

The panel was then asked what one thing companies in Europe need to “reboot” if they really want to tap into the Asia growth.

Currie said: “They have to spend time there, particularly their senior people.

“Every year our key leaders go and spend time in all those markets, with partners who are key players in the market and local ones, listening to what’s going on.

“Over many years I’ve seen that the people who have not visited Asia from our European or US offices – they may read the newspapers but they really understand nothing about the what the opportunity is and the scale of the potential that’s there.” Daley added: “It’s around patience and getting to know the market, and knowing that the way westerners do business in a practical way doesn’t work in Asia.

“Also, you have to be local language first.”

Morris Sim, chief executive and co-founder, Circos Brand Karma, said: “You don’t know what you don’t know, and getting to understand the overall context of the business that you’re operating in requires a certain amount of skill and finesse for people who are not from that culture.

“The type of information you’re operating off could make or break your business.”

When the panel was asked what type of business they would start in Asia if they were going to, Currie said: “China and Asia lead the world in mobile and social, and Weibo and WeChat work in ways that Facebook doesn’t.

“If you could educate clients in that area for western brands I think there’s got to be a big scale business there.” Daley cited social and Sim, content.

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